Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) at the People's Climate March: "We Have to Stop CO2 From Hurtling Into the Atmosphere"
Taking part in the largest climate march in history, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that Wall Street bankers will only act on climate change if people organize to make them do so. He also expressed succinctly the climate-policy challenge: “We have to stop CO2 from hurtling into the atmosphere.”
During the PeoplesClimate.tv livestream of the People’s Climate March, Hill Heat’s Brad Johnson caught up with Schumer as he chatted with billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer. The senator said that action from pension funds is needed to get Wall Street to stop financing fossil fuels, because the bankers will not lead.
“The leadership has to come from the people,” Schumer told me. “Pension funds could do a lot.”
Wall Street plays a tremendous role making New York one of the richest cities in the world. It drives the global economy, which is powered on fossil fuels. Even as Mayor DeBlasio is working to decarbonize the city’s energy supply, carbon financier David Koch is the richest man in the city. Meaningful global action on climate change, the type Schumer called for, will require Wall Street to fully divest from financing the fossil-fuel industry. Although pension-fund and other private action is helpful, what is truly needed is legislative action from Congress.
PeoplesClimate.tv is a project of Act.tv, the web video activism site.
SCHUMER: We need to stop CO2 from hurtling into the atmosphere. We need do it, we need to work for climate change both globally and locally. Globally, the whole UN is here. Globally, all the leaders of the the world should get together and maybe begin raising consciousness and doing so. Locally, we have to act on our own. We can’t wait for the leaders of the world. Today Mayor DeBlasio did a very good thing by saying he’s going to greatly increase the efficiency of buildings. That’s important.
Q: A lot of people are saying that leaders need to be the first ones to step up. What are you planning to do?
SCHUMER: I’ve been a leader of these things in Congress for a long time. But anybody in New York who doubted the effects of climate change changed their minds after Sandy.
. . .
BRAD JOHNSON: This is the richest city, perhaps in the world. Wall Street plays a tremendous role. It drives the global economy. Right now the global economy is powered on fossil fuels. How can finance, how can Wall Street change the tide?
SCHUMER: Well, one of the ways there’s leverage on Wall Street are pension funds, from the states, from the unions, and others. And if they say some things, sometimes Wall Street listens.
JOHNSON: Do you think there’s going to be leadership from the world of the banks, the bankers?
SCHUMER: No. The leadership has to come from the people, but as I said, pension funds could do a lot. He [Tom Steyer] knows a lot more about this than me.